Some weeks ago, I promised readers a copy of the third investigation report into sexual harassment on the UW-Whitewater campus. That report is linked at the bottom of this post.
Read merely alone, the report describes gross intentional misconduct, gross negligence and moral indifference about harassment and assault, as well as separate matters of managerial competency (some of which are relevant and material to the investigation’s focus, and some of which aren’t).
And yet, and yet, the report cannot – reasonably – be read alone, without considering the even longer pattern of intentionally wrongful or negligent handling of harassment and assault cases on campus. One cannot say that the full story is bigger – because for survivors it has been tragically and wrongly big enough – but it is a lengthier story, surely.
The last two chancellors – Telfer and Kopper – both failed to administer justly and diligently. (There’s something both perverse and avaricious about those who hold Telfer up as a model of a good chancellor, having presided as he did during a period of multiple claims from assault survivors of indifference or actual obstruction.)
The mere selection of a new leader will not suffice for Whitewater as it would not suffice for any community or organization.
Improvement is requires action, not declaration.
See Regarding Personnel Investigation Concerning Sexual Harassment Allegation Against Alan and to What Extent University of Wisconsin Whitewater Administration Was Aware of Those Allegations.
See also at FREE WHITEWATER a dedicated category entitled Assault Awareness & Prevention.
Campus is quiet since graduation. When you walk around yio can almost hear the echoes of conversations from the last year. Some echoes tell you that nothing happened. Some tell you that what happened is over. Some tell you that the real victim was the chancellor. Some tell you that you need to “put it all in perspective”. The pressure to shut up or go away is enormous.Some of it comes from the people who won’t stop telling you how understanding/progressive/caring they are. (When you are a real progressive this is sickening to hear.)
Then you read this:
“And yet, and yet, the report cannot – reasonably – be read alone, without considering the even longer pattern of intentionally wrongful or negligent handling of harassment and assault cases on campus. One cannot say that the full story is bigger – because for survivors it has been tragically and wrongly big enough – but it is a lengthier story, surely.”
You already knew this when you were walking since being true to yourself is what matters but when you read it from someone else it’s a confirmation of reality.
Most tell you what happened (or what they think happened or did not happen) is over. They tell you it’s in the past and to move on from it, but if you notice, none of those words come from anyone who actually had to live through the pain and trauma of it all. They didn’t have to deal with fearing going on to campus or choosing to leave school when they had a 4.0 GPA in their Master’s program because they literally feared for their safety once they felt reporting what happened to them PUBLICLY was the only way to get anyone to listen. None of them have any clue at all what it’s STILL like to live with that pain. They haven’t had to read the words of a chancellor they once believed to be their friend and mentory testifying about all the reasons they would lie about an assault and years of harassment that kept them up at night, afraid after events, afraid before events. They weren’t there the night you told other council members the truth or the exact day the assault happened and you came to your job so shaken you didn’t know how to form complete sentences but somehow told someone what happened to you.
My life will never be the same again because of the decision I made to come forward the way I did. There are moments it still feels like a dream. It still feels like a wound that won’t heal. I was Outstanding Junior in the College of Letters and Sciences my second year at UWW. I was Outstanding Senior in 2012. I was recognized nationally in 2013 before I finished my undergraduate for my commitment to civic engagement as a student. Along the way, I won at least a dozen smaller awards. I loved that campus and wanted it to be safe again. And yet, after all of those things I did, I am now forever remembered as this controversial figure who first called on the chancellor to resign and claimed to have been a victim of her employee (I emphasize EMPLOYEE because I refuse to acknowledge the marriage as relevant to this discussion).
I really wish those with no idea what we’ve been through would stop trying to tell us what to feel. I go nowhere without a psychiatric service animal now. It took me months to be able to speak in public again. I lost a huge part of who I am–and if UWW is as committed to its students as it should be, that would matter. Nobody would say “it’s over now–let it go.”
Good evening, Stephanie.
Thank you for your words.
A person – any person – of normal discernment and morality would see both the strength of your academic career and (notable even beyond those accomplishments) your courage in the face of injustice. Not to see as much would be to see nothing at all.
My very best to you, now and always, Adams
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. My very best to you, Adams